“Willy Wonka dinner jackets are THE item of the season,” announced the novelty designer of the moment.
Before the fashion show was even over, everyone had already rushed to their favourite online retailer and ordered an imitation (of course, they couldn’t afford the original one) and ended up with a personalised garment that for a couple of seasons (three, tops) made them very happy, but after that period passed — and only because the new novelty stylist nominated a different IT garment — people now wonder why that thing is taking so much space in their wardrobe.
Sound familiar? This the modus operandi of an industry that relies on “must have” fads that change every six months to stay afloat. No wonder people can’t keep up and simply decide that fashion just isn’t for them.
How to combine T-shirts for an efortless elegance
Well I’m here to tell you that it isn’t necessarily the case. Would you believe me if I told you that you already have the necessary elements to a successful outfit in your hands?
Flimsy trends come and go (leaving behind hoarding messes only the likes of Marie Kondo can fix), but there’s one item that will never disappoint you year, after year: the good ol’ T-shirt.
‘Gay icons usually have some tragedy in their lives, but I’ve only had tragic haircuts and outfits.’
– Kylie Minogue
Don’t underestimate the power of this piece. Thanks to its versatility it’s one of the (if not the) most versatile garment in your wardrobe. Even High-Fashion has embraced it. Since Karl Lagerfeld paired the signature Chanel suit with a white tee back in 1991, nobody has looked back. Think about it, T-shirts are a fashionista’s dream-come-true; they’re cheap, comfortable and go with almost every ensemble.
The problem is that in today’s get-the-coffee-to-go-while-you-Pokemon-go life, almost nobody has the time and/or patience to experiment with clothes, so inexorably, we end up wearing the same thing over and over again.
On the bright side, you don’t need a lot of spare time to get yourself out of this style rut. A little guidance and imagination can go a long way.
Pair it with a new jacket or accessory
This one is an old trick, but there is a reason why people still recommend it — it works. It will give life to your old garments and it is also a great way to dress up or dress down an outfit without much effort.
Mix up your old T-shirt with:
- A dinner jacket
- A Necklace(s)
- A Scarf
- A leather jacket
- A waistcoat
This is also a fun way to define your personal style and customise a garment that may otherwise look like something everyone else owns. For more information on styling looks, check out the infographic we did on the subject.
Don’t be afraid of textures
Imagine a room where every piece of furniture is made out of the same material. Literally, the same material. Not a nice image, now is it? It might work for a Stanley Kubrick movie, but in a real life situation it would probably be better to mix it up. The same thing goes for outfits.
During the colder months, layering is the name of the game with a soft plain T-shirt playing as the base and warmer materials on top of it. But just because in the summer there are fewer layers involved, it does not mean that you don’t get to experiment with textures (think of a plain tee with a pair of linen shorts). Good combinations to keep in mind are denim, tweed, sequins* and leather with a softer material like chiffon, silk, lace and cotton. It creates an interesting contrast.
* If you’re going to wear sequins during the day, do so at your own risk!
The cardinal rule is to keep one texture per piece. I am aware that designers have proposed denim jackets with denim pants many times before, but– unless you want to look like a Muppet with alopecia, we shouldn’t do everything fashion designers say.
Note: I don’t mean to judge. If the Muppet thing is your look, then you go! You do you.
Combining colours can be a nightmare of Anna Wintour proportions, but there’s no need to panic. Follow this simple rule and everything will go smoother. When I get dressed up, I tend to divide colours into two categories: Base or neutral colours and bold rainbow tones.
Base or neutral colours are black, greys, browns, shades of beige, white and blue. I include blue in this category because it is a very noble colour that is easy to pair up and looks great on everyone.
Bold or rainbow colours are, to put it simply, all of the tones that didn’t make it into the first category. They might not suit everyone’s style or taste.
A pretty safe way of combining shades is to have one garment of your outfit be from the second batch and then have the rest of your pieces be from the first. For example: You could have a yellow T-shirt paired up with a black jacket, blue jeans and white trainers. Another option is to have an outfit composed entirely of neutral colours with a very colourful accessory (bag or shoes). This is what fashion bloggers refer to as a “pop” of colour.
If you’re bolder than me and want to play with all of the crayons in the box, then let me introduce you to something called the colour theory, or the colour wheel. Depending on where a pair of colours find themselves within the colour wheel they will be called complementary, analogous, etc.
‘The best colour in the world is the one that looks good on you.’
– Coco Chanel
Complementary colours don’t tend to go well together because they vibrate, while analogous colours create harmonious palettes. You could learn the theory, but luckily you don’t have to (unless you’re a graphic designer – in that case you’re screwed), nowadays we have tools like Adobe Color (previously known as Kuler) which were really created for designers, but can be used by mere mortals to figure out different combinations that work. It’s really easy to use and if you don’t want to create your own, you can always check out the ones created by other users.
Look for Inspiration
If this article wasn’t any help (happens all the time with stuff I write), or if you’re just uninspired, there is always Pinterest. I know that it can be threatening; sometimes it looks like the black hole that will lead you into the underworld of crafts, recipes and kittens, but with the right keywords, ‘outfit ideas’ for example, you may find a couple of helpful tips. God knows I turn to it whenever I feel like I’m in a rut. And while you’re in there, you might want to follow Printsome (shameless plug).
You can also try consulting websites like Who What Wear and explore Instagram (though be warned, this may lead to depressing results for those on a tight budget).
When everything else fails: Seth Cohen it up!
The button-up and tee combo has been around for years and has been pulled off with varying degrees of success. The classic one is an open shirt with a T-shirt underneath (go for a plaid button-up for a 90’s grunge vibe), but the opposite can also be done. Thanks to Seth Cohen from The O.C., for a period of time, I wore T-shirts on top of button-up shirts — it looks great with both long and short sleeves.
If you feel like trying it out, I’d suggest going for a light button-up with a dark, plain tee. This can be a smart or casual look depending on the number of buttons are done up – and consequently, whether you go geeky-yet-cute Seth Cohen or just flat-out geeky Seth Cohen.
You could also try layering a jumper over your tee, which can achieve your dual fashion goals of being both practical and stylish when the weather is cold.
If you ever find yourself stressed over the whole thing, just remember that fashion is supposed to be fun! Don’t take it too seriously.
Got more fashion tips? Then send them my way! I’m always learning when it comes to fashion. Leave a comment below or send us a message via any of our social media outlets. In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
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